Washington, March 17 (IANS) NASA has selected proposals for four missions that would study cosmic explosions and the debris they leave behind, as well as monitor how nearby stellar flares may affect the atmospheres of orbiting planets.
Following detailed evaluations, NASA intends to select two proposals in 2021 to be the next astrophysics missions under the agency's Explorers Programme.
The selected missions will be targeted for launch in 2025, the US space agency said on Monday.
“These promising proposals under the Explorers Program bring out some of the most creative, innovative ways to help uncover the secrets of the universe,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator of the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
“From studying stars and planets outside our solar system to seeking answers to the largest cosmic mysteries, I look forward to the breakthrough science from these modest size missions,” Zurbuchen said.
Two astrophysics Small Explorer (SMEX) missions and two Missions of Opportunity (MO) proposals were competitively selected, based on potential science value and feasibility of development plans.
Excluding the cost of launch, SMEX mission costs are capped at $145 million each, and MO costs are capped at $75 million each.
Each SMEX proposal will receive $2 million to conduct a nine-month mission concept study.